When the Tea Party movement surfaced in 2009, most of the media dismissed it as nothing more than a collection of crackpots and lampooned them heartily. Now, after elections in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, they're not laughing anymore as they suddenly realize this is a legitimate movement. Both the Democrats and Republicans underestimated the movement and are now taking them seriously, particularly as the mid-term elections approach.
What the politicians and media failed to grasp is the general outrage of the country with politicians as represented by the Tea Party, a body of people consisting of both political parties who are basically saying, "None of the above." The disgust of the people goes beyond Washington, and touches on state and local governments as well. And why not? What do people hear about their politicians? Sex scandals, obnoxious economic policies, insane budget deficits, pork, excessive spending and debt, as well as graft, corruption and greed. To all appearances, our politicians are obnoxious irresponsible clods who couldn't manage themselves out of the bathroom, let alone our government. Bottom-line, they give the impression they are not getting the job done and people are fed up with it. To illustrate, recently I saw the following bumper sticker on the road, "If you're not pissed off, you're not paying attention."
The Tea Party has grown much faster than anyone had anticipated. Local chapters sprung up seemingly over night and you would now be hard pressed not to find some Tea Party activity in your community. Consider this though, for every Tea Party activist, there is probably five pacifists who do not have the time to participate other than to donate money and vote. With such momentum, incumbent politicians should be running scared as a big blowout is in the offing and the political landscape will undoubtedly undergo substantial change in November.
The big question in the media now is what direction the Tea Party should go; should it become its own political party or merge with another? Again, I think the media is missing the point here. I don't see this as evolving into anything other than what it is already, a powerful lobby that is run by the people as opposed to a corporate body. They can be much more effective in this capacity, whereby they can maintain their virtue and act as a government watchdog.
Let's take it a step further though, the Tea Party may just be the political force needed to call for a Continental Congress to change some of the absurd rules influencing Washington, such as term limits, kickbacks from lobbyists, campaign reform, compensation, etc. Years ago, Milton Eisenhower posed the idea that the President has within his power the ability to call for such a congress. Unfortunately, no politician in Washington has the political fortitude to do so. Plain and simply, they are happy with the current system and would never dream of implementing such an idea. After all, they would have too much to lose if they did. However, if the Tea Party continues to grow as they are forecast to, they could very well become the political muscle necessary to call for a Continental Congress, which would be another reason why they should remain neutral in terms of political parties. If they were to do nothing more than this, it would have been well worth the effort.
As an aside, watch for incumbent politicians from both parties try to embrace the Tea Party as we get closer to November. It should be really funny.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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